Saturday, October 20, 2007

Los Angeles, The Small Town

Being a native Angeleno, especially a Militant native Angeleno at that, has its unique advantages. As many transplants as if on cue gripe and whine how the entire city is "too spread out," "too large" and "too impersonal" to be of any social use, the Militant sees it in a totally different way. In fact, the Militant sees Los Angeles as just a small town...that just happens to have a lot of concrete.

On Friday, as the Militant was making his militant rounds in the neighborhood, while visiting a local school, he asked to meet with the principal. He had spoken to her in the past, but had never met in person. After patiently waiting for some ten minutes for the principal to finish her phone call, she stepped out and introduced herself and said to the Militant, "You look very famliar..." The Militant, noticing the same thing, replied, "You look very familiar too..." As his mind raced to find out where exactly he saw her before, he blurted out the answer. Her face lit up. It turns out that she volunteers at one of the places where the Militant works. The Militant had seen this volunteer, yet never knew that she was the principal of a school not far from his compound.

"Small world!" she said, about four times during the brief meeting.

But it didn't end there.

Later that evening, the Militant, seemingly on some live music trip this week, decided to check out an operative's band perform at a place called Room 5 Lounge on La Brea Avenue (pictured above; photo is a stock picture from the lounge's website as the Militant lent his trusty Militant Cam to one of his Militant Siblings as the said relative attended a concert at some brand-spankin' new theatre in Downtown that night). Being less than five miles away from the compound, the Militant got on his two-wheeler and huffed it down Beverly Blvd, past the scene of a car accident at St. Andrews Place, past the bend that bisects Wilshire Country Club, where, only on a bicycle, can one smell the aroma of the trees, thistle and other flora, seemingly unknown in this city - no - small town.

At the venue, located upstairs from Amalfi Restaurant (which the Militant once remembered, with various fond memories, as a similarly-themed eatery named Farfalla), a nearly packed house came to see the operative's band play some nicely-composed acoustic music. After the set and after the Militant gave his operative some props, a young woman approached the Militant.

"Hey, aren't you [NAME WITHHELD]?" she asked.

The Militant smiled and said that he may or may not be. No, just kidding. Yes, he acknowledged. He also noticed some other familiar places in the room as they happened to know the Militant's performing operative in a different capacity.

But it didn't end there.

Later on, as the Militant was about to leave and make a visit to the restroom, he was stopped by a couple sitting at the restaurant downstairs, who recognized him as one of their friends. The two were there to see a play at the theatre next door, and were there to have their dinner right before the show commenced. As the Militant chatted with them, he realized the last time he saw him was the day he wrote about this post, and the last time he saw her was the day he did research for this other post.

The "small world" trifecta was now complete...Excellent.

The Militant proceeded to ride his way back to the compound, this time heading north on La Brea, making a pit stop to try out some not-bad-at-all Fro-Yo at some ridiculously named joint and ending up on his favorite east-west Hollywood route, Fountain Avenue, which was a far more bike-friendly route than Beverly. But alas his route was blocked by a 4-square-block police blockade. So the small town ain't perfect, but it's home.

In the end, the Militant logged a 9-mile round trip around his immediate section of his small town. Not just knowing people, but people from different occupations and walks of life, and developing relationships with them, makes this town small, and getting to know the streets intimately without depending on a car makes it even smaller.


Miles said...

Great post, MA. LA may not be perfect, but when you get out of your car and connect with your community, it's pretty damn close.

Anonymous said...

This is a lovely, Los Angeles - love fest post. You're really making me think I should ride a bike. How do I avoid getting hit by a car?